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How Should Muslims Validate Scientific Theories?

Al-ʿAllāmah Muḥammad ʾAmīn al-Shinqītī

Evidence for taking a methodical approach and waiting for Islamic verification before making a conclusion about contemporary scientific theories.

New inventions have surfaced and claims have been made by contemporary theorists. Thus, the people have divided into two groups: those who hurriedly reject these theories and those who readily accept them. It may be that both groups cite the texts of the Qurʾān and Sunnah (to support their position).

Perhaps it is more appropriate to mention firstly that modern-day theories are of two categories:

  1. Theories that clearly contradict the Qurʾān. These are rejected without dispute, like the theory that the sun is stationary compared to the statement of Allāh:

    وَٱلشَّمْسُ تَجْرِى لِمُسْتَقَرٍّۢ لَّهَا ۚ

    “And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed)”
    [Yāsīn, 36:38].

  2. Theories that do not contradict the Qurʾān with no mention [of these theories] in it, nor do we possess the scientific tools to prove or disprove them.

Our initial position should be one of verification without rushing to give a final ruling of affirmation or negation. This practice is taken from the incident that occurred with the hoopoe, Sheba and the Prophet of Allāh Sulaymān. When the hoopoe came to give him the news (regarding the queen of Sheba) while he (عليه السلام) did not know anything about them. He neither denied the news from the hoopoe nor did he believe it. This is because he did not know of them previously even though the hoopoe described them precisely.

His position was one of verification despite what he had of means to discover and investigate like the wind, the birds, the Jinn etc. So he said to the informer, which was the hoopoe:

سَنَنظُرُ أَصَدَقْتَ أَمْ كُنتَ مِنَ ٱلْكَـٰذِبِينَ

We shall see whether you speak the truth or you are (one) of the liars.
[al-Naml, 27:27]

We do not have greater capabilities—in our times—than Prophet Sulaymān had in his time. Likewise, those reporting these theories are not lesser in stature than the hoopoe. Therefore, at the very least, let our position be similar to one who waits to see whether the news is believable or if it will be exposed as a lie.

The intention behind this point here is for us to not attach to the Qurʾān that which is not clearly stated, over and above what it entails. Whenever a theory is proven to be true or false, the Qurʾān is subjected to comparison with these theories, while the Qurʾān is above all that:

لَّا يَأْتِيهِ ٱلْبَـٰطِلُ مِنۢ بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَلَا مِنْ خَلْفِهِۦ ۖ تَنزِيلٌۭ مِّنْ حَكِيمٍ حَمِيدٍۢ

“Falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it: (it is) sent down by the All-Wise, Worthy of all praise (Allāh عز وجل)”
[Fuṣṣilat, 41:42]

Source: ʾAḍwāʾ al-Bayān, tafsīr surah al-Mulk, ayah 05.
Translated by: Munīb al-Ṣumālī

Published: February 24, 2024
Edited: February 29, 2024


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